Friday, April 12, 2013

Look back to look ahead

With the ski season set to wrap up Sunday, it’s time for government and business leaders in the Sun Valley area to take a look back in order to look forward.

Bald and Dollar mountains surmounted a winter with abundant early snowfall, scant mid-winter snowfall and a relatively early melt. Yet, the masterful efforts of the snowmaking and grooming crews on the mountains made them delightfully skiable most of the season.

Nordic skiing was also unsurpassed with the area’s unmatched trail system.

Skiing quality is not one of the challenges the area faces. The area’s winter challenges include getting the word out and expanding options for non-skiers who, in terms of potential visitors, far outnumber people with boards strapped to their feet. As the area finds itself ever more reliant on visitors and owners of second homes to keep its economy healthy, local government officials, groups funded by government and businesses need to develop a blockbuster season list of winter events in addition to skiing and boarding.

The winter’s economy will not thrive without such developments. It was preternaturally quiet sometimes this winter. Bright spots included events like the Boulder Mountain Tour, college races, and the Sun Valley Film Festival that drew large groups from out of the area.

Sun Valley is an extraordinary stage. It’s a retreat with space to explore big arts, to discuss big ideas and to foster movements that can change the world.

Area leaders need to gather all that’s good about the Sun Valley area and figure out—even in these historically difficult times—how to leverage its mythical status as the nation’s first destination ski resort to make the winter economy as robust as the health of its skiers and boarders.

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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.